Practical Guidelines for Session Chairs

Before the Annual Meeting

  • Communicate with participants in advance, requesting any information you need to introduce them effectively.
  • If applicable, panelists should send you their papers to you by December 1.
  • If an author fails to meet the December 1 deadline, you should immediately contact him or her to make sure that the paper is supplied at the earliest possible date.
  • If a presentation comes in that obviously exceeds the time allotted to it, the chair should write the author at once and insist that a shorter version be prepared.
  • Please prepare a 3–5 minute introduction; this time is your opportunity to offer context for the session. What is at stake? Why do you think this is going to be an interesting conversation?
  • You might also consider preparing a few questions that will stimulate conversation among the panelists.

At the Panel Session

  • Be mindful of the time. Inform participants well in advance how long their presentations should take.
  • Start at the appointed time, welcome everyone to the session, and include the title of the session in your greeting for those who might have wandered into the wrong room. Ask everyone to turn off cell phones and other devices.
  • Be concise in introducing the speakers.
  • Warn speakers when their time is nearly up, and stop them when they exceed it.
  • Presentations, panelists’ remarks, and comments should conclude 30 minutes before the scheduled end of the session to allow for discussion with the audience.
  • If you are moderating the discussion, repeat or summarize all questions and comments from the audience so that everyone can hear.
  • Do not allow the discussion to continue beyond the session’s announced end time.
  • Live tweeting: To facilitate virtual conversations arising from the annual meeting, the AHA encourages attendees to live tweet using both #AHA17 and the session hashtag, which is simply "s" and the session number: for example, session #1 would be hashtag #s1. Participants are encouraged to share their Twitter handles at the beginning of their presentations. Speakers presenting material that they do not wish to be live tweeted should make a request to the audience at that point, as well.

After the Session

  • Please make a note of the approximate number of people attending the session and the number of questions and comments from the audience.
  • AHA staff will send you a short survey after the meeting to collect this information, which is helpful in planning for future meetings.